Mission typeAsteroid sample return
Comet orbiter/lander
COSPAR ID Edit this at Wikidata
Mission duration10 years (planned)
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass≤2,000 kg (4,400 lb)[1]
Start of mission
Launch date2025[2]
RocketLong March 3B[3]
Launch siteXichang[4]
469219 Kamoʻoalewa orbiter
Sample mass≥100 g (0.2 lb)[1]
311P/PANSTARRS orbiter
Orbital insertion2034[5][6]

ZhengHe , also known as Tianwen-2,[2] is a planned Chinese asteroid sample-return and comet exploration mission that is currently under development.


Named after the 15th century explorer of the Ming Dynasty, ZhengHe is planned to be launched by a Long March 3B rocket around 2025.[2][7] It will use solar electric propulsion to explore the co-orbital near-Earth asteroid 469219 Kamoʻoalewa and the main-belt comet 311P/PANSTARRS.[8][9] The spacecraft will rendezvous with Kamoʻoalewa and conduct remote sensing observations in orbit, before landing on the asteroid to collect a sample of 200–1,000 g (7.1–35.3 oz) of regolith.[1][3] A nano-orbiter and nano-lander will be deployed to conduct remote sensing and sampling observations, and explosives will be used to expose potential subsurface volatiles for detection.[4]

The spacecraft will use both anchor-and-attach and touch-and-go methods to attempt collection of a sample from the asteroid. It would be the first time an anchor-and-attach method has been used on an asteroid, as both OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 used touch-and-go.[10]

ZhengHe will then return to Earth to drop off a return capsule containing the sample and conduct a gravity assist maneuver to propel the spacecraft toward Mars, where a second gravity assist will be performed to direct it to 311P/PANSTARRS.[11] A flyby of an unnamed asteroid may also be attempted en route to 311P/PANSTARRS.[4] Remote sensing and in-situ measurements will be conducted at 311P/PANSTARRS for at least one year.[3][12]


In 2018, a deep space exploration roadmap covering the 2020–2030 timeframe was proposed by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences,[13] which included an asteroid exploration mission planned for launch around 2022 or 2024.[14][15] In spring 2019, after a design study for the mission was carried out by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the CNSA began soliciting international proposals for scientific instruments to be carried on ZhengHe.[3][8][11]


ZhengHe will incorporate several types of instruments, including wide/narrow angle multispectral and color cameras, a thermal emission spectrometer, a visible/near-infrared imaging spectrometer, a mass spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a charged/neutral particle and dust analyzer.[3][11] International contributions to these payloads are being encouraged.

The United Kingdom is considering a proposal for a penetrator to deliver a mass spectrometer to probe the subsurface ice of 311P/PANSTARRS.


  1. ^ a b c 赵志军、全齐全、潘博、危清清、赵京东. "多臂协作式小天体附着取样机器人机械系统". 哈尔滨工业大学. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  2. ^ a b c Jones, Andrew (2022-05-18). "China to launch Tianwen 2 asteroid-sampling mission in 2025". Space.com. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  3. ^ a b c d e Zhang, Xiaojing; Huang, Jiangchuan; Wang, Tong; Huo, Zhuoxi (18–22 March 2019). ZhengHe – A Mission to a Near-Earth Asteroid and a Main Belt Comet (PDF). 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Jones, Andrew (5 August 2020). "China is moving ahead with lunar south pole and near-Earth asteroid missions". SpaceNews. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  5. ^ Snodgrass, Colin (October 2018). "Exploring the next frontier: the Main Belt Comets – Chinese MBC mission" (PDF). University of Edinburgh. p. 20. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  6. ^ 我们的太空 (2021-04-27). "【讯息·航天】2021中国航天大会 航天领域重磅消息密集发布:小天体探测、月球科研站、重型火箭……" (in Simplified Chinese). 知乎. Retrieved 2022-06-25.
  7. ^ "Capable Of 'Tracking Us In Space', China Is Building A "High-definition" Deep Space Facility With An Astonishing 150 Million Km Of Range". Defence Aviation Post. 2022-07-27. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  8. ^ a b Gibney, Elizabeth (30 April 2019). "China plans mission to Earth's pet asteroid". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-01390-5. PMID 32346150. S2CID 155198626. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  9. ^ "China to meet challenges of exploring asteroid, comet". Xinhua. 6 November 2019. Archived from the original on November 6, 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  10. ^ "China Plans Near-Earth Asteroid Smash-and-Grab". IEEE Spectrum. 2021-08-10. Retrieved 2021-11-04.
  11. ^ a b c "China invites world scientists to explore asteroid, comet together". Xinhua. 18 April 2019. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  12. ^ "China pushes forward exploration of small celestial bodies". Xinhua. 24 April 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  13. ^ Xu, Lin; Zou, Yongliao; Jia, Yingzhuo (2018). "China's planning for deep space exploration and lunar exploration before 2030" (PDF). Chinese Journal of Space Science. 38 (5): 591–592. doi:10.11728/cjss2018.05.591. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  14. ^ "China outlines roadmap for deep space exploration". SpaceDaily. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  15. ^ Wang, F. (27 June 2018), "China's Cooperation Plan on Lunar and Deep Space Exploration" (PDF), Sixty-first session (2018) of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, UNOOSA, retrieved 4 June 2019.